Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash tossed with dark greens

Happy Leap Day....err Leap Year....Happy Extra-day-this-month....

Anyway, I have totally missed the boat this week and meant to post on Monday as I'm trying to get into a Monday, Wednesday, Friday routine but dang was I tired on Monday. See this past weekend Joel and I traversed New York State to brave the wilds of the Adirondacks and Lake Placid in a belated celebration of our anniversary. Pictures are coming of that craziness (promise mom). Stay tuned.

But today I have a fabulous winter recipe for you all. Are you rolling your eyes? Are you dreaming of pastels and bunny eggs and bright spring flowers? I am. But this recipe is still good and I say one more hooray for winter foods. Ok let's get started.

Peel and roast a butternut squash and one onion.

Saute up some dark greens. I used kale but spinach or even mustard greens would be lovely.

Now toss the roasted veggies in the wilted greens. 

If that wasn't appetizing enough now it's time to toss in a handful of craisins. They add a delicious sweet and tanginess. Like orange tang for childhood only much, much better.

That's it. See, easy!

Roasted Butternut Squash tossed with dark greens

Yields 4-5 servings


1 medium butternut squash peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large bunch of dark greens
~1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Nonstick cooking spray
salt and pepper
1/4 cup craisins


Preheat oven to 425.  Toss butternut squash and onion in baking pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil and good pinch of salt and pepper. Roast until soft, about 45 minutes.

Wash and prepare the greens. Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Add greens after two minutes add stock. The goal is to keep the heat high enough for the liquids to steam the greens (you can also cover the pan to accomplish this goal but I hate more dirty dishes so I don't typically). Add salt and pepper to taste. Feel free to add more stock if pan dries out and the greens need further wilting.

Toss roasted vegetables with greens and add the craisins. Top pan with remaining olive oil.

Serve and enjoy!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Dreaming of summer

Every year around February I think the entire Northeast dreams of breezy summer days sitting on a front porch. Well I know at the very least that I do. As a matter of face around this time last year I hosted a salsa and mojita's party. Quick pause, mojita's are so perfect and so festive for a party.

I checked pinterest to find the most mouth-watering summer-inspired festive foods (say that 5 times fast). Here's what is inspiring me.

Mountain Mama Cooks shows off her easy blender salsa. It looks like a restaurant salsa. One of my friends whips up something similar and let me tell you it is delicious.

Allison at Disney Family gives a peak at Fiesta rice. I actually made a similar dish earlier this week and it was so good. I recommend this light and healthy dish.

What's summer foods without a burger? Beth at Budget Bites switches up the basic burger to a healthier and fun twist with Greek Turkey Burgers. Yummy.

Nothing says summer like fresh summer greens and veggies. I realize you can get these items year round but really there is nothing better than fresh and tender lettuce. All Recipes of all places had this Poached Salmon Nicoise Salad that has my mouth watering.

If these foods don't get you excited to kick back and relax then I have a treat for you....Sophia Grace and Rosie!! I flippin' love these girls. They are so cute. Also, how fun are those skirts? I die. Take a look at their latest antics on Ellen.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I made (whole wheat) gnocchi!

Hey-a! I am so pumped to talk about making gnocchi because I kept putting off making it for weeks. My potatoes were overtaking my kitchen and I kept ignoring them because I didn't want the mess or to do the peeling. Of course I decided to make a large batch to freeze some and to use up the aforementioned pile of potatoes.

I decided to roll up my sleeves and get to work. I started with about 10 potatoes and peeled and boiled them until fork tender and let them cool in a colander until I could handle them.

Next up: the potato ricer, yes! I should have snapped a pic of the action because it reminded me of childhood and those play doh sets that you shoved the play doh through different shapes. 

    When I was done it was quite the pile. At this point I realized I was nuts for doing such a big batch. No turning back now. I dug a little hole in the middle and kept going.

I guessed that two eggs would do it and about 3 cups of whole wheat flour. I was basically making things up as I went along. This is definitely the best way to make a dish you know nothing about. I think at some point I panicked and tossed in some salt since potatoes can use some flava.

Now that I had the disaster of flour, eggs, and potatoes I started mixing with a fork. I started channeling Mario Batali since every episode of his show included him whipping up some pasta like so. Naturally, I opted against finding orange crocs to put on and just kept to his well pasta method and left my impression at that.

After the mixing I had a mess of crumbs, perfect.

I smushed the mess together.

Then I kneaded. I could have done this all day. So fun.

I took small sections and rolled them out.

Cut them into even chunks.

Then just for fun rolled them on the back side of a fork to get the little ridges. This wasn't really necessary but looked sweet.

Finally I dropped them into boiling water until these little suckers floated to the top which took a few minutes.

I am so pleased with the outcome. The gnocchi turned out perfectly; the gnocchi was tender and delicate.  I tossed the gnocchi with some shrimp, peas, and homemade spinach-walnut pesto. It was perfect.

Quick tip on freezing: a girlfriend recommended I freeze them on a baking sheet before tossing them into a bag to freeze. I am so glad she imparted that tip because otherwise I would have frozen clumps of gnocchi.

This is so simple you don't even need a recipe...maybe. Leave me a comment if you would like more details on this recipe.

I hope you give this a whirl!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Camera Strap....take one

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. I had a busy but fun-filled weekend. First, we enjoyed Chilifest with Joel's family and a friend. It was wonderful to see his family and spend time with his nugget of a nephew while enjoying some really delicious chili. Then we enjoyed a local comedyfest - it was a fest-filled weekend - organized by a local improv group, the Comedy Flops, that a good friend of ours is a member.  Besides a fairly alarming emcee the improv show was so fun.  Additionally, a portion of the proceeds raised go toward helping lower-income families afford local CSAs. You know we were all about that cause.  

Needless to say after a busy Saturday I was excited for a relaxing Sunday. 

So you remember this teaser I showed off last week. 

I was so excited and full of hope with this little project. As you know I am dreaming of quilt making and my pinterest proves it with an entire board dedicated to quilts I want to make. 

This is a fairly straight forward project. Measure, cut, sew, iron. Turns out to be not that simple. I used a tutorial that I think was a little off and likely a good dose of user error made this not-so-perfect. Oh right, and I used fabrics that are difficult to sew particularly for a new sewer. Doh! 

Check it out. 

Do you notice the ironing board fabric and the camera strap fabric? People, I like what I like. 

I didn't snap a photo but I also attached iron on interface. That was straight-forward and uneventful.

Let's talk about the finished product. Not too shabby from the photos but upon closer inspection it is flawed. First, I had no idea that the gingham is sort of snag-prone.  

Also, as you can see the strap isn't exactly straight down or tight on the strap. 

On the plus side I did get some practice with sewing, always a plus. The fabric really is cheery and has me excited for spring. I plan to take another go at this little project but do my own measuring instead of relying on a tutorial. 

In the meantime this is my mantra for sewing and eventually quilting. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Reflections on my CSA

Recently I've been thinking about our CSA because it will be ending in the next couple of weeks and we'll be once again buying all of our produce from the grocery store for close to four months....not that there is anything wrong with that. But, participating in my third CSA (summer 2010, summer 2011, winter 2011-12) has given me a lot to chew on. hardy har har. So I made a list of reflections.

1. I value local food more.  

Now I've always enjoyed fresh food but after enjoying the CSA and its bounty I think more about where my food is from. I also happen to live in a small town that has an intense focus on local/organic/farmer-food, so it's also a cultural thing around these parts. I do think that the CSA has me more in tune with how far my food has traveled. Having said this I'm not hypersensitive about it but I do think more about it than before.

2. In-season food tastes better. 

This is a bit of a no-brainer but it's true and the CSA throws it in my face all the time. As much as I crave fresh tomatoes I refrain from purchasing them this time of year because likely they will be fairly tasteless. However, this time of year I am longing for zucchini or eggplant and sometimes I give in and buy it but most of the time I stick to my dark greens and root vegetables that come standard in the CSA. It can get a little monotonous but that's how it goes.

3. Sometimes it's boring.

Or not what I'm in the mood to eat. I've never consumed so many white potatoes. Quick sidebar, white potatoes can get a bad rap but actually preparation is key because they are good for you too in moderation of course. There are times when I see what is in the box for the week and loudly sigh with boredom. Then I suck it up and toss the 10 new potatoes into the growing box of potatoes.

4. I love trying new vegetables.

Ok, so maybe not always lest I forget the beet challenge of 2011. But I won! Beyond my beet challenge I've been exposed to lots of cool vegetables I otherwise would not have tried. I'm so glad that I did because I've loved the experience.

5. I'm racing to keep up with the food.

Seriously. Remember how I said Joel and I had not been out to dinner in four months? Yeah, it's bonkers. There are worse problems. The upside is I have loads of frozen brussels sprouts as well as prepared veggies on the ready when my train of fresh veggies ends later this month.

6. Organic food spoils faster???

Clearly, this is not a lesson learned but it does raise questions for me. I get the CSA on Thursday and by Saturday the dark greens are looking worse for wear. Because of trying to keep up with the amount of food we get can be a marathon there have been casualties but mostly I'm able to save the veggies. Plus Joel doesn't believe in throwing food away so he'll sometimes gulp down food before I have the chance to toss it.

7. I want a garden! 

'Nuff said.

8. I will miss the CSA. 

I will miss opening the box every week to inspect our goods. I will also miss not having to think too hard about my produce picks because they've been picked for me. But mostly, I'll miss the fresh and delicious veggies grown in my own back yard (practically).

There you have it. My Top 8 reflections on my CSA. In the next few weeks and months there will be sign ups available for CSAs and I would highly recommend anyone to think about supporting a CSA. It helps local farmers and keeps your business local and the food is so fresh and delicious.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Inspiration Monday

I sometimes find Monday's to be a hard reality check from often relaxing and productive weekends. This weekend was particularly relaxing as well as inspiring for future projects. For that reason I thought I might start off this Monday by reflecting back on so much of what I loved from the weekend and now look forward to.

In food-related news I made French toast for a Sunday treat. My main-squeeze hinted that oatmeal was not all that appealing and I offered to make the treat. We were both pleased.  I of course put peanut butter, maple syrup, and banana on my toast. It is an amazing combination.

Moving on to what inspired me. I spent a little time surfing the blogosphere and pinterest over the weekend. Honestly, are there other uses for the internet? Well, Avenue Q has some suggestions (google, Avenue Q and the internet for a giggle or perhaps blush).

Anywho, one of the problems with blogs is the more you read the more you find and the more you find the more you love. It can be exhausting. I happened to stumble upon Inspired By Charm. You guys, this man is so amazing and creative. I want to be his friend in real life. Doesn't that happen with good blogs?  He had a gorgeous section on quilting and this photo blew my mind.

I had no idea a (non Pottery Barn) quilt could look like that! I am smitten! I must quilt! Pinterest to the rescue. I found a succession of bright and unexpected quilts that I have to make right now....right now!!! I called my mother and told her I've lined up our next project.  Take a look at The Good Report's beautiful quilts. 





I decided to start small and rushed off to the store and picked up some fabric. I'm going to start with a small quilting project (not a blanket). Take a peak at the fabric. Stay tuned for what it turns into. 

Now it's your turn. What did you do this weekend that excited/inspired/relaxed you? 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Foul Medames

Last weekend Joel and I went out to eat at a newer Mediterranean restaurant in town for a dinner and movie date night. This was after realizing we have not been out to eat (not including Subway, natch), since my birthday. In September. Whoopsies. We did not set out to be such home-bodies but between our CSA, which keeps us knee deep in veggies, and the holiday season, that kept us on the go, we just didn't get around to going out for a nosh. Needless to say we weren't bothered much that we are hibernators during the winter since we barely noticed it had been months. However, it did make our dinner out feel a bit more special.

In the spirit of "hey we never go out for dinner" we decided to order an appetizer that included hummus, baba ganoush, and foul medames. I had never heard of foul medames but the sweet server told me it was a fava bean dip. You guys, it was ah-mazing. So good. Joel only had a bite or two - I let him have the other dips. I'm a giver.

Anywho, I decided to give it a whirl at home. I did some digging into recipes and found there is great variation. Also, interestingly different Middle Eastern countries eat this dip with various toppings. I opted to go the Egyptian route and make it for a high protein breakfast and topped with hard boiled eggs or as I preferred a poached egg.

This business was so good. I'm not quiet ready to trot out a recipe yet but I will whip it up again to make some tweeks and then I'll share my preferred recipe. 

Have you tried a new food yet? Been inspired by a dish you had out that you had to recreate at home? 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Lentil Soup

Can I just tell you all that I had the most relaxing weekend, ever. I guess the crazy-whirlwind-twister of the past two weeks caught up with me. As a matter of fact Joel and I planned to go ice skating but I was more in a napping mood. People, I DO NOT NAP. I didn't actually nap this weekend (yikes, that was close) but I was more in the mood to nap than skate. Weird. I am glad we spent most of the weekend relaxing because now I'm ready to take on the week again! Anywho, enough rambling about my weekend and onto the recipe. 

As you may remember I love lentils. I think they are sort of like chicken, you can dress 'em up in lots of ways and switch up the flavors and lentils can take it all in.  The other secret that I love about lentils's so easy to prepare. Basically, I never use a recipe because I can pretty much throw in whatever I feel like and know it will turn out.

I started with onion, carrots, and celery.

Just dump the mix into a pot with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. 

Next up a pound of lentils and two quarts of chicken stock. 

A can of diced tomatoes.

I threw in a few strong dashes of cumin to add some flavor. Then simmer away until the lentils are cooked through so about 45 minutes.

That's it. Seriously, the most strenuous part is chopping the veggies.  I think I love cooking soups more than anything. 

It was a crowd pleaser. And by crowd I mean Joel, naturally. 

Give it a whirl and let me know what you think. I'm looking at you mother! 

Easy Lentil Soup

Yields 8 servings


1lb dried lentils, pick over to check for random debris and rinse
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 quarts chicken stock
1 14.5oz can of diced tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
chicken bullion, optional


Heat olive oil in dutch oven or a large pot over medium heat. Add diced onion, carrots, celery, and salt and pepper. Saute for 8-10 minutes until soft. Add garlic for one minute and add cumin. Combine chicken stock, tomatoes, and lentils into the pot. Simmer for 45 minutes until lentils are cooked through.  

I added a chicken bullion to kick up the flavor. Feel free to add more salt and pepper as needed.  Add water as needed for desired soupiness.